Acquisition Rebalancing: Recommendations for Smart, Efficient & Effective Defense Procurement

The Department of Defense (DOD) must change how it acquires weapon systems and services. There is growing recognition from DOD leadership, Congress and the defense industry that it is time to revise the overly complex and burdensome system that drives unnecessary cost into programs and will soon make them unaffordable as defense budgets decline.

Making the acquisition system more economic and more responsive has been an elusive target. The challenges of time-to-delivery and product cost persist despite all attempts to reform the acquisition system over the last 40 plus years.

It’s time to stop tweaking the edges and bring the acquisition system into balance, starting with these core principles:

  • Have trust and confidence in the U.S. military and the aerospace and defense industry’s ability to deliver together outstanding technologies that keep our nation safe.
  • Balance oversight so that all parties are treated fairly and allow oversight functions to consume only the resources needed to mitigate risks of poor performance and malfeasance.
  • Employ our nation’s scarce resources to get the most value for our military from every dollar our nation invests.
  • Protect the nation’s economic and national security by developing and implementing cohesive defense industrialbase strategies.

These principles inform the recommendations presented in this paper, written to address the critical questions asked by the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. How can acquisition be more cost effective? Can delivery be expedited? Can recruitment, retention, and training of acquisition professionals be improved? How can program managers be empowered to make sound decisions, and how can technical expertise be fostered? Oversight and management ideas were also sought, as were recommendations to improve cost and delivery over the life cycle of major weapons systems. This paper is organized to address these questions and requests.

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